Standing at the edge of something is a difficult place to be but it’s a place we regularly function in, some of us better then others. It’s just like looking over the edge of the whirlpool, waiting to jump in, knowing what’s on the otherside may make you sorry that you missed it. But it may also destroy you or define you, as poet Margeret Avison describes in the poem “The Whirl Pool.”
Stevan Tyler of Aerosmith sang that living on the edge, “you can’t help yourself from falling” and I think he had a good point when it comes to living in this world, we are always on the edge of choices and decisions.
Paul Brandt sings in his song Risk, ” I’d rather stand on the edge of a cliff and hang my toes over a bit and jump even if it scared me and I got hurt. I’d rather live my whole life with a sense of abhandon, squeeze every drop out no matter what happens, and not wonder what I had missed – I would rather risk.” I think that says it all, he would like to live without regrets.
Imagine standing at the Grand Canyon and going out onto that glass look-out point, the one you can see right through at the rapids far below you and the layers of brick red, dirty orange, vanilla, and brown canyon as far as the eye can see. Or imagine waiting at the falls at Niagra and watching the water going over. The edge is a difficult place to be but there is often this sense of freedom and no regrets associated with the word; but not always.
Think about someone being mentally and psychologically pushed over the edge due to mental illness or something they can’t handle. This is a vicious place to be for someone experiencing mental trauma such as psychosis, depression, or anxiety. And the majority of these people just need your understanding, your help, and your friendship.
I think mentally and psychologically, the edge is a hard line to define in exenuating circumstances, where people become violent. For instance, no one knows what makes killers of unhappy people on campus, when they go and shoot everyone they can put a bullet into. Is there a point when this could have been stopped? Citizens know that with tighter gun regulations these type of events go down dramatically as do gun related deaths. That’s an edge to me, an edge the US government and citizens have fallen off of and will continue to do so until laws restrict guns.
As for myself, I face a different kind of edge dealing with a life on the edge of exhaustion. I’m always trying to push myself past my limits, only to be stuck in bed the next day because using all my energy has made me ill. So, when I’m out, I must keep track of that three hour mark, knowing that if I let myself go past that edge I will deeply regret it for one or two days after. That three hour mark is an edge I balance on as I plan what I am going to be doing each day of the week and how I am going to manage if plans change, as they often do.
I use to live on different edges — the edge of drinking, that point where you have had a lot to drink but not so much that you will regret it the next day. Or the edge of a relationship. At what point is enough enough. When I played sports there was that edge, at what point do you pull someone off for not playing well and put someone else in? At what point when you are losing does the team collapse and fall apart and start getting mad at each other. When do they start to learn how to get past that drama and play well anyways.
Edges are despicable places to be, but they definitely define us in a moment, a split second of choice; a mental, emotional, or psychological decision. Here’s to you as you face that edge and I hope the edge you face is good place to immerse yourself in. May you never be afraid to step off it, thoughtfully, in the right moment. May you have the courage to help and face others who have wrongly stepped of the edge, and lead them back to stability.
Thanks toI Smith Words for the prompt edge.